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Benji is spending day 2 at daycare and I hope everything’s going well! Having no real work to do yet (we had to enrol Benji earlier in daycare than needed to ‘secure’ a spot; crazy, I know, thankfully the Australian government subsidises some of this!), Bry and I seized the opportunity to go on a lunch date at this new Mexican joint, Fonda Mexican, located in a fun and energetic neighborhood called Richmond.

Fonda Mexican serves gluten and dairy free tacos – YAY! – and delicious fries with an amazingly tasty aioli sauce. Price was about $6 per 6″ size taco – not too bad considering we’re in Australia. Bry ordered a burrito which tasted healthy and good. There were some crispy corn chips sprinkled in there which made it quite unique in a good way. We’ll definitely go back there again.

Now, I’m enjoying some QT by myself at home, catching up on housework and reading, when, really, I should be catching some zees.

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After Benji was diagnosed with Eczema, I spent countless of hours researching on this topic and decided to make a concerted effort to figure out what exactly is triggering his rashes. So far, I am pretty certain that wheat and possibly sesame oil are causing some of the flare ups.

Since starting this elimination diet, my eyes have been peeled open to the concept of diligently reading the ingredients labels on every single food item I purchase or use. Even though I have been a foodie for quite some time now, I have never quite paid so much attention to what goes into my packaged foods and sauces before this. For instance, I only just found out that there is wheat in soy sauce, and in some kinds of fish sauces, and there may be traces of milk, soy, and wheat in the tortilla chips we love that I have always thought were purely corn, oil, and salt.

One of the blog posts I read recently, about how a mom decided to be more conscientious about buying quality food products after her son’s diagnosis of eczema, resonated strongly with me. (Her blog contains lots of good information on eczema and other allergy related stuff go to: www.itchylittleworld.wordpress.com). For awhile I bought only organic chicken and turkey because I was not sure if Benji was affected by hormones or genetically modified foods that were fed to the animals. Sure, it was more expensive, but I had to do it.

There was an op-ed in the New York Times just a couple days ago by Nicholas Kristof, titled Arsenic in our chicken?”. There were some startling facts revealed in that article, like, “almost 9 out of 10 broiler chickens in America were fed arsenic,” and that chickens were fed caffeine so that would presumably have longer waking hours and feed more, but were also fed Benadryl to calm them down because calmer chickens produce better tasting meat. Seriously??? WTH?!

I remember complaining about the high cost of groceries and fresh food when we first moved to Australia from America in 2008. Chicken was the most differently priced meat: one kg of whole chicken sold at the Queen Victoria Market (where one would find the most competitively priced food) is about AUD 6 (USD 6.20 or so; that would be about 1lb for about USD 3.00). The average price for a whole chicken at Ralphs is about USD 2/lb. That is quite a bit cheaper.

It did not completely register that we were paying more money in Australia for our foods, especially meats, because they were organic. Meaning, chickens were being fed grain, not injected with hormones, were allowed to roam freely and not force fed in a tiny, overcrowded chicken coop the way their American cousins are. The epiphany came only after watching the docu-movie Food, Inc, which unraveled for me the darkness of the American food industry and how they are able to keep food costs down by doing dodgy things to their animals like feeding their cows corn or other cow carcasses (how is that legal. Vomit.).

After that, the cost of my food in Australia made total sense to me. Whenever I visit the US, I still have a hint of uneasiness as I eat the meat and wonder whether they come from one of the shoddy chicken or cow farms that were featured on Food, Inc, or that I read about in “Fast Food Nation.” Even vegetables are not spared these days, as I found out after reading “The Omnivore’s Dilemma” by Michael Pollan.

Now that we’re in Canada, I am relieved to know that most meats and fresh produce sold are Canadian. Not that I know much about the Canadian farming industry, but surely it would not be a screwed up as the American ones.

Like a lot of others, it took some kind of allergy or food related problem to alert me to be more prudent about what I put in my system. I never had to deal with weight issues and never cared about the calories I put in my system or had to think twice about what I ate, but for the sake of Benji, I have to do it. But the more I learn about the types of foods I eat, where my food comes from, and what goes into my food, the more I realize how much more judicious we need to be because there is a lot of weird stuff out there being put into our foods these days.

Do you know where your food comes from and what goes into your food? Do you think it’s time to pay more attention to what you’re eating?

Some good places to start to learn more about the crazy food industry in the US:

  • Fast food nation by Eric Schlosser
  • Food, Inc a film directed by Robert Kenner
  • Supersize me a film by Michael Moore
  • The Omnivore’s Dilemma by Michael Pollan

Do you have anymore resource to share?

Morning #1 of mat. leave.

Feeling great! Relieved to have officially completed my work without hiccups. Sure, I have a couple more things here and there to finish but that can be done easily in the next few days. I’m also glad to have some me-time before sunnyboy arrives. There’s still quite a bit to be done at home before he comes; I’m sitting in our living room which is quite a jungle because of unwashed dishes, unfiled bills, and just…stuff lying everywhere.

To do today:

  • Sort out tax stuff and other admin matters
  • Beauty therapy in the morning then meeting Bry for a late lunch date at my fav Ramen place that has amazingly cheap lunch deals
  • Pregnancy exercise class in the evening
  • Start cleaning up the apartment

Day #1 is looking pretty productive. I’ve got days #2, #3 and #4 kinda mapped out, too! Sounds ironic but I like productive leave days.

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Celebrated Bry’s success @ work with a delectable lunch at Nobu at the Crown Casino. I first learned of Nobu when in Los Angeles. The chef, Nobu Matsuhisa, is a celebrity chef in the US and who now owns a chain of restaurants by the same name all over the world. Australia included. We had beautiful beef steak, spicy cooked prawns, and some really charming and delicious appetizers, one of which was cubes of rice deep fried and served with raw spicy tuna. Don’t worry, I didn’t eat the fresh fish but the deep fried rice was amazing. So was the steak, which was served with a special wasabi pickled sauce. Of course, being pregnant limited my choice of food especially at a Japanese restaurant where half of the menu comprises of some kind of raw meat (which I LOVE!).

Nevertheless, I still thoroughly enjoyed my meal. The dessert was also delightful, so don’t leave without trying something from the sweets menu.

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All right, so I caved in and ingested *some* caffeine this weekend. I have been on a good anti-coffee streak for about 2 trimesters until recently. Coffee in this town is simply too good to resist; in fact, I’m surprised I managed to hold out for so long. Since about 2 months ago, I’ve been drinking coffee maybe….once a fortnight as a “treat” to myself and also because I’ve just been feeling more and more lackadaisical from sleepless nights and baby weight. (Btw, it’s quite safe for pregnant women to drink limited amounts of coffee containing between 150mg-300mg caffeine. I just chose to avoid it completely for awhile, just in case. For more information, click here.)

This new cafe, Market Lane Coffee, at the Victoria Market in Melbourne serves exceptional coffee and I’m glad I got a cappuccino from them! They also sell some pretty cool coffee brewing devices and some really wonderful coffee beans. They’re on Therry Street next to the market. Apparenty there’s also another outlet at the Prahran Market. These cute little cafes serving quality food and drink are really what make Melbourne such a great food town…and me, a very contented foodie.

Had an almost 4 hour long lunch today with a friend. It was a great catch-up. Since moving here to Australia I haven’t formed too many tight friendships but the ones I have, I am grateful for. Tis always nice to be in company of people you really enjoy spending time with and with whom you can just chat away the afternoon… 🙂

Today I had my first exercise class at Preggi Bellies, which as the name already suggests, is a fitness exercise program that caters specifically to pregnant (and post-pregnant) women. I’ve never been one to enjoy the gym or even aerobics classes, preferring instead to exercise outside such as running in the park or by the beach, playing tennis, or doing laps in the swimming pool.

However, as I may have written in a previous post, after being preggers, I’ve been very limited in the types of activities I can do and did not want my fitness level to deteriorate or to put on any unnecessary additional weight. Not to mention that it’s FREEZING here in Melbourne at the moment, so even finding the right day to go power walking without returning with a frozen nose and icy cold hands has been challenging. Read More